Baby Cubes for Mother Earth
Blokhed is a post-contemporary puritan cubist, working strictly with cubes in their most powerful and absolute form. Blokhed’s uncompromising engagement with the cube has led to an unprecedented expertise in the form. Blokhed was awarded an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal (2010) and a Master of Fine Arts from the Texas Wesleyan University (2012), specializing in form. They went on to complete two prestigious artist residencies, Le Cube (Casablanca, 2012) and Cube.Moscow (2013). In 2015 the direction of the work shifted towards the sciences, there was a need to find proofs and validation to the cube obsession. Which led to a Master of Mathematics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (2017), and a Doctoral Degree in Geology and Earth Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin (2019). During Post Doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania another research group proved that the earth on average is a cube, though Blokhed was not directly involved in this research they felt their life’s work was now validated by science. This enabled Blokhed the freedom to return to the passion felt in their artistic cube practice; the powerful commitment to manipulate all matter into organized cubed simplicity and perfection. Blokhed’s public cube sculptures can be found internationally in various locations and they are the winner of The Cube Award (2020) and the Prix Cube Award (2021).
How did it all start? Growing up in Quebec City I was highly influenced by the controversial public sculpture Dialogue with History by Jean-Pierre Raynaud. I spent full summers at the sculpture investigating the white square tiles that made up the cubes while playing with my Rubic’s Cube. I remember at five years old feeling betrayed by the city’s suspicious decision to demolish the sculpture in the city square. A square is in many ways like a cube, only in two dimensions rather than three. During my youth I visited the town of Dačice, Czech Republic, the very location that the revolutionary sugar cube was invented in 1843. Thinking back on these hot summer days I know it was these two experiences that touched me deeply and inspired my lifelong passion for cubic discourse.
During my formative years I was highly influenced by the longstanding classroom debates regarding Tony Rosenthal and Tony Smith. The world’s two greatest cube masters, fondly known as the Tonys’ by the art world in the 60’s. Working during the same time period but with completely different conceptual styles and philosophies, it inevitably led to a heated rivalry in New York City. Rosenthal first accused Smith of being a cube copier in 1968 when Smith’s Die was first showcased, Rosenthal’s Alamo had been resurrected the year before. Smith rebutted that he had first made the prototype for Die out of cardboard in 1962, that Die was made to human scale, anything smaller would make it a mere object and ended by accusing Alamo of being a garish monument as it was larger than six foot. In retrospect, Smith never stated what the six foot size made Die (certainly not human), but the controversy still lives on with the Tonys’ now resting in their six foot boxes.
My current practice investigates the link between Plato’s theory of matter and the raw power of the cube within public art. Plato invented the concept of the cube, recognizing that all matter had a natural platonic shape, earth being the cube. While the cube has fascinated egoists, minimalists, mathematicians, geologists, naturalists, and power hungry tyrants all the same, there is no denying its relentless pull on humans. It is in these tensions between human and nature that the cube establishes insurmountable presence within space. Interestingly enough in 2020, a group of researchers proved that the average shape of the planet is in fact a cube. It’s a proof. A proof is a proof. The earth is a cube.
In this project, Baby Cubes for Mother Earth, I travel to Helsinki, Finland, to meditate and collaborate with the infamous Matti Peltokangas’ public cubes sculpture, From Bottom to Top, From Top to Bottom. One of the fundamental challenges regarding connecting with cubes is establishing the correct distance to work from when dealing with such powerful sculptures. One needs to be close enough to the cube/cubes to feel their powerful presence, yet not so close that it intimidates one’s ability to create. Akin to being face to face with a wild bison, one wants to feel the fear and adrenaline enough to excite and stimulate but not so close as to become a deer in the headlights, overtaken by the fear and the power of the cube. From Bottom to Top, From Top to Bottom happens to be one of the most menacing cube collections I have come across over the years of cube chasing. The diagonal razor sharp teeth of the granite surface cut at the fingers to the touch. The strong smell of granite and the soft smell of drunken piss alert the nostrils immediately. Their sheer size dominates the human, and not one but four stand relentless to our meek soft bodies. As I walk between their bodies they tower above me to the point that I no longer see the cubes, only row upon row of shredders. These are beasts! I feel their omnipotence.